IRVING, TX, May 27, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who led the military to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell, says that he would have allowed homosexual leaders for Boy Scouts of America.
Gates, who was elected to head the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) for a two-year term last week, said that he “would have supported having gay Scoutmasters, but at the same time, I fully accept the decision that was democratically arrived at by 1,500 volunteers from across the entire country.”
A year ago, BSA allowed openly homosexual scouts for the first time. The policy reads that “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” The policy took effect on January 1, 2014.
Gates, who said he “was prepared to go further than the decision that was made,” declared in a public statement last week that he did not intend to reignite the very public, months-long controversy. According to Gates, “to try to take last year's decision to the next step would irreparably fracture and perhaps even provoke a formal, permanent split in this movement – with the high likelihood neither side would subsequently survive on its own.”
However, a “formal” split has already taken place. Due to last year's vote, the organization Trail Life USA was created. The new group says it aims “to be the premier national character development organization for young men which produces Godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens.”
Furthermore, the decision by BSA to allow gay scouts has led to criticism from people on both sides of the debate. Homosexual activists say the group did not go far enough, whereas many Christian parents and groups say BSA is bowing to public pressure from homosexual advocates to affect its membership, despite its Christian roots.
Corporate pressure has been especially aggressive. Earlier this year, Walt Disney World threatened to not allow employees to volunteer for BSA as part of its VoluntEARS program in 2015 if the organization does not allow gay Scout leaders. Diversity Inc. reports that Merck & Co., Ernst & Young, Major League Baseball, and AT&T are just some of the other companies that have pressured BSA to change its policies.
Even President Obama has gotten involved, saying in 2010 that “gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life.”
Trail Life said it had 500 groups join it as of December 2013. Over 70 percent of BSA's membership consists of faith-based organizations, and many of its Catholic, Mormon, and United Methodist-affiliated troops have expressed concern about the new policy. The Southern Baptist Convention, which has 4,000 troops affiliated with it, condemned last year's change.
BSA says its policies will protect its members from abuse by Scout leaders, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Those policies include a mandate that at least two adults are present at all times, and leaders are not allowed to touch Scouts.